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Meyersdale apartment contained working meth lab; 2 men charged

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By Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

State police in Somerset County discovered a working methamphetamine lab in a Meyersdale apartment early Tuesday morning and charged two men with operating it.

Jordan Michael O'Donnell, 22, and Matthew Gordon Bowman, 29, both of Meyersdale, face multiple drug charges.

“By no means does this dissolve the heroin-meth problem in Somerset County, but this most certainly will put a dent into it,” state police Sgt. Greg Keefer said during a news conference in Somerset Tuesday afternoon.

After a police investigation, District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser approved a search warrant Monday night for an apartment along Mason Dixon Highway. Early Tuesday morning, state troopers and Meyersdale police searched the apartment rented by O'Donnell.

“Evidence of a working meth lab was immediately evident in the residence by items seen throughout the apartment that are commonly used in the production of methamphetamine,” a state police report states.

O'Donnell and Bowman were in the residence, police said.

“It was determined that there was an active one-pot meth lab in operation,” Lazzari-Strasiser said. “And there was a tremendous amount of other paraphernalia seized to include some heroin, empty heroin containers and all of the paraphernalia that is used in the production and manufacturing of meth.”

The “one-pot” method is a new, compact manufacturing method that employs a plastic bottle, officials said. Several bottles were found at the apartment, Keefer said.

Lazzari-Strasiser lauded police for their deliberate and cautious action in avoiding a situation that she said “could have been very volatile.”

Neighboring apartments were evacuated, Keefer said.

“There was definitely ... a strong odor that would indicate that coming from the apartment,” said state police Cpl. Edward R. Thomas. “Just some of the familiar ingredients that would be used in it.”

Methamphetamine is an addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It is sometimes clandestinely manufactured using over-the-counter cold and allergy tablets containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine and common household products such as lye or certain drain cleaners to convert the drug into high-quality meth.

“O'Donnell indicated that he was cooking meth using the one-pot system,” according to an affidavit of probable cause. “He indicated that he cooks meth approximately four times a month.”

O'Donnell told police they would find meth, syringes, heroin packets and other drug paraphernalia in the apartment, court documents state. Police found 20 packets of heroin and cash, Keefer said.

Police seized a chunk of meth but did not know its weight Tuesday, Lazzari-Strasiser said.

O'Donnell said Bowman has lived at the apartment for about two months and was there when the meth was cooking, an affidavit states.

When police searched Bowman, they found a syringe, according to the affidavit.

Both men face charges of conspiracy to manufacture, deliver or possess with intent to manufacture or deliver; manufacture, deliver or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver; drug possession; and use/possession of drug paraphernalia.

As of Tuesday, O'Donnell was in Somerset County Jail in lieu of $75,000 bond, and Bowman in jail in lieu of $125,000 bond.

Online court records do not list an attorney for either man.

Both have preliminary hearings May 9 before District Judge Douglas Bell.

Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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